Chapter 300: Hidden Currents [Volume 5 – A Distance Within Reach]
The banquet within was designed in an antique style. The hall was divided into two parts—the pathway in between was paved with green jade and had been made, with an unknown method, to emit a flickering glow in the twilight. A group of twenty-odd dancers was moving elegantly amidst the music of bells and zithers, their exquisite and bountiful curvatures faintly discernible under the flying muslin. Add to that their charming and gentle expressions, they would not lose out even if there were no accompanying music.
Zhao Junhong was seated at the leading table to the left and beside him was a tall man no more than thirty years of age. His bearing was calm and his facial expression resembled Song Zining a fair bit. He was the man they had mentioned just a while ago, Song Zicheng.
The great hall was already half full, filled with people of all descriptions and relatives both close and distant. This place was a public venue where the music troupe performed and not reserved by a single person. But even then, those who could sit at the front were all direct descendants of the Song clan, or at the least people from powerful branches.
Song Seventh Young Master, known for his love of beauties and wine, was a frequent customer of the music hall. He had long since been spotted by a servant who ran over to guide them in.
At this time, the singing and dancing came to a pause. The dancers split into two groups and performed salutations toward the seats on each side. The hall was filled with cheers—the men’s eyes lit up as they swept their gazes over the ladies and began to make idle comments.
Qianye and Song Zining arrived at a certain empty seat without drawing much attention. Song Zining’s eyes immediately lit up as he swept his gaze toward the stage. “So this is the batch of little beauties trained by Zhiyuan? Interesting indeed.”
The guiding servant seemed as if he wanted to say something, but he happened to see a person rushing in from the entrance just as he turned around. “Seventh Young Master’s eyesight is comparable to a torch. Look, sir, Young Master Zhiyuan has arrived.”
The person who had just arrived was a young man in his twenties with a cheerful and frank demeanor. This was precisely the younger son of Honorary Duke Gu, Song Zhiyuan. The kid Qianye had met at the entrance to the armory was his sister.
The three of them sat down together after Song Zining introduced the two.
Song Zhiyuan immediately began to praise the group of dancers he had trained. He immediately beckoned for two of them to come over and pour wine for them. His attitude was fairly enthusiastic and didn’t neglect Qianye just because he was a mere guest warrior. This went to show that the personal relationship between Song Zhiyuan and Song Zhining was quite close.
Qianye felt the scene to be a tad too noisy and his nose was filled with all types of fragrances. The perfumes used by the Song clan dancers were all high-quality items and were, without exception, faint, natural, and alluring. They absolutely couldn’t be spoken of on equal terms with the cheap cologne worn by the women in those little taverns on Evernight Continent. After some time, the pleasant fragrance almost seemed to penetrate deep into the marrow, making one feel intoxicated.
On one side, Song Zining was in high spirits as he teased the little beauty. Soon, the group shifted the target of their jests to Qianye.
A dancer with a beautiful purple chrysanthemum pinned to her hair stood with her back toward Qianye. She then flipped back as if her soft waist had no bones in it and delivered the wine cup held steadily in her mouth toward Qianye’s lips.
Not only Song Zining and Song Zhiyuan, but even those from the nearby tables were cheering. At this moment, the atmosphere in the hall was gradually heating up. The group of dancers had dispersed toward the various tables to pour wine and were using various methods to urge the guests to drink, giving rise to bursts of laughter from time to time.
Qianye smiled as he reached out to take the wine cup from the dancer’s mouth and drained it in one gulp.
Song Zining couldn’t help but perform a facepalm and say, “Why would you use your hands for this?”
The dancer who passed Qianye his drink was still maintaining her posture. But at this moment, she suddenly moved—her slender waist extended sideways with great dexterity and actually kissed Qianye who was just within reach on the forehead.
Song Zining couldn’t help but slap the table as he broke into a laughter. He reached out to drag Qianye by the shoulder and said, “Good brother, don’t betray the lady’s grace.”
The dancer’s lips were quite soft, and quite unexpectedly, there weren’t any intense external fragrances on her body. That which assaulted the nostrils was first the scent of the Dahlia in her hair, followed then by a wisp of alcohol. Expedited by the girl’s vivacious aura, the two came together to form a distinct spirit which made one’s blood flow faster.
Qianye didn’t hate this kind of tipsy feeling. He reached out to hold the dancer’s chin and immediately gave her a kiss. The lady let out a moan and sent her supple waist backward until she actually landed on Qianye’s lap. Her lips and tongue were offered with great passion as they intertwined and partook of each other.
Suddenly, Zhong Junhong stood up from the leading table and raised his wine glass at Song Zining.
The latter’s eyes flashed as he cheerfully reciprocated the gesture and emptied his cup.
Zhao Junhong then turned back and began to chat with Song Zicheng beside him.
This small action had, in truth, entered the eyes of many. The relevant parties were already aware of the incident that took place this afternoon on the way to Enlightenment Manor.
Even Song Ziqi, who had left some men to observe the entire process from afar, had no idea what had just happened. That servant only saw Zhao Jundu and Song Zining exchange a few words without any obvious movement before the latter’s guest warrior had thrown a punch forward, whereupon he was promptly obstructed by Zhao Junhong. After that, Song Zining and his guest warrior turned to leave.
But no one dared to carelessly judge if a person was friend or foe just from this. The Zhao clan’s fourth young master possessed a notorious temper. Throughout the years, all who had heard even a little bit about him would know that it was best not to join in even if he were confronting someone else because he might actually beat the newcomer first before killing his enemy. In comparison, Zhao Junhong seemed like a good person since he was, at most, merely condescending and arrogant.
As such, no one mocked Song Ziqi for withdrawing even though he had gone to stir up trouble for Song Zining and had, instead, taken a loss in public. Although it was normal for those of the same clan to stand up against outsiders regardless of their infighting, not many among the younger generation of the Song clan had the guts to do so against the Zhao clan brothers.
Song Zhiyuan whispered in Song Zining's ear with an extremely soft voice, “The Zhao second young master seems to view you favorably!” Song Zhiyuan had already witnessed the grand occasion of Zhao Junhong’s arrival—it was an honor if that second young master even gave one a glance, to speak nothing of a proactive greeting.
Song Zining only smiled without responding. Under the Song clan’s current circumstances, a favorable impression could only be considered a mixture of fortune and calamity. The gesture was just enough to make up for Zhao Jundu’s ineffable ambush since the latter made no move to promote him or affect him in any way.
Zhao Junhong had always been mediocre in his fame, but after numerous dealings with him, Song Zining found that this Zhao clan second young master shouldn’t be underestimated. His manners were always controlled and appropriate—this was a definitely a far-sighted person.
At this time, Zhao Junhong left the table and walked out of the side door alone. Song Zining also stood up and left the great hall.
Letting go of the dancer in his arms and playfully stroking her long silky hair, Qianye turned around with a pensive gaze. Meanwhile, the dancer, panting and with fiery eyes, remained latched onto him like a pond of spring water.
The moon was at its brightest outside, its soft hazy light scattering to the ground amidst the exquisitely decorated plants and origin lamps of the courtyard.
Song Zining walked to the end of an isolated alleyway and smiled as he saw Zhao Junhong’s figure appear. “Brother Junhong, do you have anything to say to me?” Suddenly, autumn seemed to pervade the air around them as several fallen leaves gradually fluttered down. All sound had been isolated by the domain of the Three Thousand Flying Leaves Art.
Zhao Junhong didn’t seem at all uneasy just because he was standing in another person’s domain. “You’ve reached such a level even before the champion rank. It won’t be wrong to say that you’re the number one character in the Song clan. Unfortunately, time isn’t on your side.”
Song Zining was somewhat startled but soon replied with a smile, “So it turns out, Brother Junhong is here to talk about my affairs?”
Zhao Junhong said, “If you are willing, you can marry any lady from the Zhao clan’s side branches. Even Zhao Yuying isn’t impossible either.” Zhao Yuying was born to a side branch of the Zhao clan, but her talents were reportedly just below Zhao Ruoxi and the fourth young master.
A chill suddenly ran down Song Zining’s back and his hands actually began to sweat. In truth, this was the third time he had received a wedding offer, and it seemed the propounders had all ignored his engagement to someone from a landowning class. But this wasn’t a good thing either, because it meant that these people were also ignoring the Song clan’s will.
Even though the attitude of those individual aristocrats couldn’t indicate anything special, the significance behind Zhao Junhong’s sudden offer was completely different. One had to know that Zhao Yuying’s position in the Zhao clan could only be higher and not lower than Song Zining’s status in his own clan. Bringing her up for this marriage offer was, without a doubt, not for her to marry into the Song clan. Since Zhao Junhong had spoken so directly that Song Zining was already short on time, those words had to have a reason behind them.
After a moment of silence, Song Zining spoke with an unmoved expression, “Zhao Second Young Master truly favors me.”
“This is also my fourth brother’s opinion,” Zhao Junhong was smiling just as before, “I shall take my leave on the morrow to attend to the many clan matters. As such, it’s best we dispel the misunderstanding between us as soon as possible.” He paused for a moment and said with a flash of melancholy, “Fourth Brother only wishes for Qianye to be safe. It’s just that his way of handling things is a bit impetuous. I hope Zining can understand.”
Song Zining suddenly broke into a laughter. “Let me tell Brother Junhong a story.”
“About half a year ago, I helped Qianye kill one of his enemies, a brigadier general and division commander of the Evernight Continent’s expeditionary army. He was known to be of common origins and it was also thus recorded in the army’s files. But in truth, he was a bastard son of the head of the Huaiyang Martial Family.”
At this point, both Song Zining and Zhao Junhong suddenly turned around to see Qianye walking through the small alley toward them.
Song Zining only nodded at the latter and opened the domain to let him in. He then continued his words.
“That person single-handed established a city, which shows just how talented he was. Later on, he somehow found out about his own origins and established contact with the main family. In any case, we found, when we moved against him, that the transactions under his governance were all closely tied to the three branches of the Huaiyang Martial Family.”
Qianye was somewhat startled after hearing this. It turned out Song Zining was talking about Wu Zhengnan’s case.
“Actually, the situation wasn’t at its worst when his forbidden transactions with the dark races were being investigated. But, the Huaiyang Martial Family maintained complete silence and cut off all trade routes rapidly.”
“There’s something even more interesting. Even though the Huaiyang Family’s secret arts and techniques are just so-so, they’re still an aristocratic family. But not only did he not obtain any inheritance from the family, but on the contrary, he was forced to seek bloodline amalgamation from the vampires in order to repair the hidden injuries brought about by the Combatant Formula. In the end, he fell to the dark side completely.”
The scene was suffused with a stifling sensation as Song Zining finished speaking.
Zhao Junhong’s expression changed several times before be smiled ruefully and said, “I think I understand what you mean.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Sorry for the somewhat delayed release! Something came up this morning and messed up my schedule.
5/7 of the week.